Sunday, September 12, 2010

YMR: another blog

Do you know about the blog You, Me, & Religion? If you don't, you might want to check it out. The blogger has twenty-two questions that are asked of people of many religions, and a new person's responses are posted every week. It's pretty neat.

I'm the latest one whose responses were posted, and I copied and pasted them below.

.......


Here Is Sarita's Introduction:

Hullo! I am a 21 year old English major, attending a Catholic university.

I enjoy reading, talking about books, writing, music (playing piano, singing Barbershop, singing solo, singing with a choir, etc.), loom knitting, doing needlework, mending books, gardening, learning about other religions/spiritualities, and writing poetry. I'm even a published poet!

I have a couple of blogs that I keep up regularly.

My main one is A College Girl's Day's (http://collegegirlsdays.blogspot.com/) and my book blog is Sarita's Library (http://saritaslibrary.blogspot.com/).


1) What religion do you practice?
I am a semi-eclectic Pagan. I'm also a shamanic practitioner, but I'm still just getting started on that path.

2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
Whether I converted sort of depends on who you ask. I didn't figure out that I was Pagan until I was in my teens, but if you ask my mom I was born Pagan and was Pagan all along.

My mom was raised Protestant and my dad Catholic. By the time they met and married they were "liberal Christians" (my term), so my brother and I were raised celebrating Christmas and Easter, hearing all about Jesus Christ, and praying before meals. However, we never set foot in a church. When I was young I did start praying at bedtime, all of my own accord. I actually don't know if my parents even knew about that. :)

There were certain things about Christianity that I didn't understand. Holes that I couldn't fill in with the explanations given to me, I guess you could say. I started to study other religions and spiritualities, and I discovered that some forms of Paganism filled in those "holes" and that it made sense. After some time studying it I suddenly realized "Hey, I'm Pagan." (And immediately after that realization I wondered "When did that happen???")

So I would say that I didn't exactly "convert." It was more a case of me figuring out where I belonged.

3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
That's hard to say, since I don't know what would make a moderate or conservative Pagan.

4) In your opinion, what makes you moderate/conservative/other?
See above.

5) What's your heaven/paradise like?
I really don't know, because I think that there are so many ways a person can go once they die. They could be reincarnated, spend some time in a purgatory type place, or wind up in a heaven like place. Or something else could happen.

I can tell you that when I envision a heaven it is a place where I can be outdoors, garden, read my books, and be with those I love. Basically, a place where I could relax and do what I like to do.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
I believe that everyone gets to the same place eventually. Remember, reincarnation. :) I just don't know what that place we eventually get to is.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
Perhaps because it's just what I am. My spirituality is just a part of me. I can't really explain it better than that.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
The solstices and equinoxes, and times halfway between each of them. So that's eight total.

What I do to celebrate can vary, and for most of them it can be something just as simple as having something special for dinner. The two that I do go out of my way to make a fuss about are Yule (winter solstice) and Samhain (pronounced so-when, it is October 31st).

On the longest night of the year I keep a fire going all night long. Preferably it will be a fire in the fireplace but candle flame also works. Ideally I'll stay awake until dawn, but in actuality I have been known to take short naps accidentally.

For Samhain I remember those who have passed away in the last year, do something (maybe crafts) to honor the time when the veil between this world and the Other world is the thinnest, and have something special for dinner. And since Samhain is the same day as Halloween I also hand out candy to trick or treaters. It's a fun day.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Definitely. It's nice to have friends who share my beliefs, but sharing a belief with someone doesn't guarantee that you'll get along with them. And anyways, things would be boring if everyone believed the same thing. I think it's good that other people see the world differently than I do.
So yes, I definitely consider non-Pagans to be my friends.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes. My immediate family is interfaith: Pagans and Christians. So we celebrate the Christian and Pagan holidays together.

I think I will always celebrate Christmas and Easter because I was raised with them, and I do still love Jesus. Also, they seem to fit the Pagan celebrations that occur close to them.


11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
It depends on why the burka is worn. If it's worn for the proper reason -- as modesty -- then that's no problem. If it's worn for the wrong reason -- as oppression -- then there's a problem.

I've never known anyone who wore the burka, but I've had friends who wore the hijab, which is another kind of head covering. Truthfully, I always thought it was cool to see the different styles of hijab they would show up wearing. It seems to me that hijabs (and maybe even burkas) can show a woman's personality more than a hair style does.

I also want to say that I view wearing the hijab (or the burka) as no different from wearing a shirt. Look at it this way: in the USA it's considered wrong for women to run around topless, right? But in other parts of the world it's completely normal. So for Muslim women who wear the hijab it's the same kind of thing: they cover their hair for reasons of modesty, even though other people (even their neighbors in the USA) have no problem showing off their hair.

As for the Shariah Law, I don't like what I know of it, but I haven't exactly studied up on it either.

12) What are your thoughts on women not being allowed to become priests?
In Paganism women can be priests along with the men.

I do tend to get irritated with religions where women aren't allowed to be priests. Perhaps I should work on being more accepting and less judgmental.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
My church is the great outdoors, and it doesn't segregate.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
I think that yes, my thoughts on things such as abortion and gay marriage have been affected by my spirituality. At the same time, how do I know that my ideas on things like that haven't affected my spiritual path?

And it does affect my daily life. Every time I eat or drink I try to remember to give thanks to the spirit of whatever I am eating or drinking. I pray every day. I don't have particular times set aside to pray, though I do tend to pray at bedtime. But I pray at odd times throughout the day, sometimes telling a trickster god that something isn't funny if strange things (that are entirely too strange) keep happening, or praying to a healing deity if I see an ambulance go by on the road.

Also, if I want a spiritual experience I just need to step outside my front door and take a deep breath, pausing long enough to really notice Mother Nature. That's one of the upsides of following a nature centered path, and it's something that can be done pretty much any time if you just take the time.


15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
Speaking as someone who is nowhere near having a child, I think that I would have no problem with any child of mine who wanted to marry outside our spirituality, or wanted to adopt a different spirituality/religion. All I would ask is that they still respect nature, themselves, and other people, and everyone's right to follow their own path.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
First of all, I do not believe in the Christian concept of hell. However, I do suspect that there are hell like places just like there are heaven like places.
But I don't think that someone is going to end up in a hellish afterlife just because they don't share my spirituality.


17) Who do you think is not a practicing Pagan in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I've seen some people in the news saying they were Pagans who I thought were doing it just for the publicity or as an excuse for crimes, but none of their names stuck with me. One fairly recent case (again I don't remember names) that comes to mind is a guy who killed his girlfriend and then said that it was part of a Wiccan ritual. Um, the Wiccan Rede is "do as you will but harm none." No true Wiccan would kill their girlfriend, especially not in the name of their religion.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
A hate crime? No. Discrimination? I don't know. I can tell you that when I was trying to get my passport last year I was given trouble extra trouble that my mom and brother didn't experience, even though I provided all the exact same paperwork and same kind of stuff that they did. I don't know for sure why they flagged me as trouble, but they might have done it because of my pentacle, which neither my mom or brother wear. After a few weeks they did bend over backwards to be nice to me when my mom wrote to our elected official and asked if the trouble I had was normal, or if it might be religious discrimination.

To this day I don't know for sure if it was religious discrimination.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
No. If it did, there would be something wrong.

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
I guess so. I mean, sometimes I wish the gods did things differently (and I can get irritated with certain tricksters), but it's nice to have them there for me.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
Yes I do believe in it. Why? I do because it just seems right. However, I don't believe that it's the only way to "get things right" so to speak.

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